The horned frog's super sticky tongue helps it to subdue large prey items.
The tongue of the horned frog (Ceratophrys cranwelli) acts like a piece of adhesive Sellotape (A British sticky tape) when striking out at prey, according to new research by Thomas Kleinteich and Stanislav N. Gorb of Kiel University in Germany. Kleinteich and Gorb recorded the forces of a horned frog’s tongue by putting a cricket behind glass that was outfitted with a light source that lit up the places the tongue made contact with. They filmed those areas with a high speed camera to detect the location of impact and retraction and determined that the tongue had similarities with adhesive tape, forming small threads called fibrils that connected to the surface and would break off one at a time as it disconnects.
They then used 3D models to map the anatomy of the frog’s tongues to determine how the individual muscle fibers in the tongue are arranged. They found that the muscle that brings the tongue back into the mouth fans out under the surface of the tongue, and the force is evenly spread over the entire surface of the tongue, essentially making the tongue one big muscle.
"This is a similar effect to trying to vertically pull a strip of Sellotape off a surface, instead of starting from one end – you need significantly more strength to do so,” Kleinteich said. The complete paper can be found on The Royal Society Open Science website.
John Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a kingsnake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata